Saturday, March 1, 2003

KidVid Con 6

Establishing shot of typical Marriott-Hyatt generic type convention hotel announcing “Welcome KidVidCon 6!” – a convention for the perpetrators of kiddy shows, some human, some Muppet. (The year is unspecified but it’s obviously before “Mister Rogers” and Sherrie Lewis died.) We see BIG BIRD, MISTER ROGERS, CAPTAIN KANGAROO and the rest of the usual suspects filing in …

Go to –


BURT and ERNIE are sitting at a bar nursing drinks. BURT looks dejected. ERNIE’s in a good mood, as usual. TINKIEWINKIE, the putatively gay member of the “Teletubbies” ensemble, walks up to them – ignoring ERNIE completely and walking up to BURT.

TINKIEWINKIE: (walks up to BURT at bar) Hi, guy. Enjoying the con so far?

BURT: I’m not gay.

TINKIEWINKIE: Fuck you! (he walks off)

ERNIE: (giggling) Hell hath no fury.

BURT: Jesus Christ, I’d like to get my hands on the fucker who started that shit.

ERNIE: Cheer up, Burt. At least they’re not saying you shoved a gerbil up your ass.

BURT: I’m an actor. We’re supposed to be kids, six, seven years old. Nothing gay about it. Nothing sexual about it, just sick minds. Sick minds …

ERNIE: Hey, Burt?

BURT: What?

ERNIE: Ever notice something?

BURT: What?

ERNIE: Nobody ever says I’m gay. It’s always "Burt’s gay."

BURT: Fuck you.

ERNIE: Anyways, you can’t be gay, Burt. You don’t have any sexual organs in the first place!

BURT: Neither do you, asshole.

ERNIE: Speak for yourself, Burt. (looking up at two people entering bar – then shouting out) Sherrie Lewis! Lambchop!

SHERRIE LEWIS and LAMBCHOP regard him warmly with much sexual subtext and implied history. They walk off together with happygolucky ERNIE.

ERNIE: See you later, Buddy Burt.

BURT: (looking up to heaven) I hate you, Jim Henson.

MISTER ROGERS walks up to him.

MISTER ROGERS: Buy you a drink?

BURT looks up with a typical, shuddering Muppets-style emotional take.

Additional Material

Yeah, this is the sketch that just wouldn't die.


The Sportsbar section where the COUNT from Sesame Street” is hanging out with SILENT E from “The Electric Company.”

COUNT: Ten. Ten points to beat the spread.
E: I can’t say silent anymore…
COUNT: Shhh…you are distracting me from the game.
E: What game? It’s all numbers to you. How can you even enjoy it when…
COUNT: Curses … curses, touchdown, six points, six, now the Bills are winning. (he sobs into his Bloody Mary) 500 bucks. 500 bucks into the sewer system.
E: See what I’m talking about?
COUNT: It is over. I am, as you say in this country, screwed. Now you can talk.
E: Now I can talk?
COUNT: Talk!
E: They wanted to use me.
COUNT: They?
E: (looking around paranoiacally, checking table for bugs, etc.)  They. The government. The military. They.
COUNT: Sure. Now understand you my friend. I am familiar with the “They” of which you speak. I, too, have been approached by They! They flattered me. Ah Count, you are so good with numbers! They wanted me for crypto, you see. Code-breaking. But I told them… (checking himself) Ah, you must forgive an old Muppet’s self-absorption. It is you who are telling the story. Please continue. (pause) One. One story.
E: It’s this Iraq deal …
COUNT: Yes, Babylon the Great. One bad country. One.
E: Bush Jr. wants to prove he’s got a dick just like daddy. I am not a wimp! See, mommy, I’m a better killer than daddy! Love me, mommy. It’s so fucking Oedipal.
COUNT: (with old-world self-possession) Your point?
E: They asked me to “join the war effort.” They said I could “win the war.”
COUNT: And how could you, an unvoiced phoneme, win the war?
E: Simple. Iraquis have a dam? I turn it into a dame. Big flood – Tigris Euphrates kills a thousand people. There’s a fir? I turn it into a fire. You get the idea.
COUNT: One bad idea.
E: I said no. I’m no peacenik…but I’m no killer. I wanna teach. I wanna help kids. I took a vow.
COUNT: Don’t you mean a vowel?
E: Ha-ha.
COUNT: (reacting to TV) Oh look…look. One fumble! One interception! One touchdown! Again the Bills are losing and all is right with the world!

Out in the halls, some of the characters are just hanging out. OSCAR THE GROUCH from Sesame Street is chatting up the curvaceous APOLLO SMILE from Japanese children’s television. He’s pressing into her body space and pushing her further and further away down the hall like two opposing magnetic doggies. 

OSCAR: The truth is I’m not a grouch in real life and I don’t live in a garbage can. Most of us aren’t really like our characters.
OSCAR: Cookie Monster, on the other hand…

COOKIE MONSTER comes running down the hall shouting “Me want nookie!”

OSCAR: To me, that’s just immature.

Distantly, we hear COOKIE MONSTER screaming “Nookie!” OSCAR shakes his head. APPOLLO rolls her eyes.

OSCAR: “I’m a star, I can do anything I want.” Please. Look what happened to Belushi. I keep telling him…

APPOLLO smiles politely. Her body language screams, “I’m trapped in a conversation with an asshole and I want to escape.”

OSCAR: Me? Like I said, I’m no grouch. “Accentuate the positive,” right? Words to live by. I strive to have a positive mental attitude. “P.M.A. every day.” Every day. That’s my lifestyle.
APOLLO SMILE: (bored) That’s wonderful.
OSCAR: You know I do yoga? I get up a five in the morning. Five in the morning every day. Every day.
APOLLO SMILE: (eyes darting this way and that) That takes a great deal of self-discipline.
OSCAR: Thirty minutes of exercise, thirty minutes of meditation. Every day.
APOLLO SMILE: (bored shitless) I am very please for you.
OSCAR: Did I mention I’m getting into directing?
APOLLO SMILE: (regarding him coldly) I have been directing for years – and you have wasted enough of my time. (as a final parting shot) We are years ahead of you in children’s television, you know.

She walks off.

GO TO – INT, dealer’s room. Lotsa crap for sale for folks in the kidvid biz – urine covers for seats, a 30-minute home pedophilia test, a model release forms for puppets, etc. The room is almost empty except for a buncha unhappy DEALERS who aren’t moving their merchandise and two living fossils from the early days of children’s TV –  SOUPY SALES and WALLY COX (a.k.a. “Mr. Peepers”).

WALLY COX: Is it just me, or is this Con a little on the dead side?
SOUPY SALES: (another 60s kiddy show host) Hey, dead’s like pregnant. You can’t be a little bit dead. Dead’s dead.
WALLY COX: You gonna hit me with a pie now?
SOUPY SALES: I’m sorry. Took this logic course in college. “Undistributed middle” and all that shit. Inner need to prove I’m deep-down an intellectual. It’s all bullshit. The truth is I got a fucking D in the course…and if you want, now you can hit me with a pie.
WALLY COX: (pretending to pat his pockets) I don’t seem to have one on my person.
SOUPY: You’re all right, Peepers. The rest of these…is it just me, or are all these new guys too fucking serious? Oh, we’re teaching kids values, we’re teaching phonetics. I made ‘em laugh. What’s wrong with that?
WALLY COX: There is a certain self-important quality …
SOUPY: Exactly. You know who’s the worst? Mister Rogers, that’s who. Got those Tony Perkins eyes. That “Psycho” guy, you know what I’m talking about? WALLY COX: Yes, I’m familiar with …
SOUPY: Talking to those little fucking puppets in his little fucking “Neighborhood of Makebelieve” like he means it. One of these days… (pantomimes stabbing with knife) Eeee! Eeee! Eeeee! He always gives me the creeps, you know?
MISTER ROGERS: (standing right behind them) No. I don’t know.
SOUPY: I… (his mouth hangs open)
MISTER ROGERS: No, no. Go on. Keep talking. It’s good to talk, mmm-hmmm. If you have something to share, we want to hear it, mmm-hmmm. But it’s not good to talk about people behind their backs, is it King Friday?

He looks down at a King Friday handpuppet who shakes his head “No.”

MISTER ROGERS: No. (regarding SOUPY with psychotic intensity) Perhaps I’ll see you again sometime. (He smiles slightly and walks off)

Long pause. SOUPY and WALLY just stand there stunned.

SOUPY: (recovering)  Jesus. He didn’t blink once.
WALLY COX: I noticed that too.
SOUPY: (looking around) You think they sell any guns here?

Over in the corner, the dealer at the “GUNNY RABBIT” table raises his hand.

Go to –
INT, lobby.
Older, macho-looking security GUARD talking to younger ROOKIE.

GUARD: I think we got a situation here.
ROOKIE: Situation? (looking around) They look pretty harmless to me.
GUARD: Wise up, kid. The New Zoo Revue just booked in. Ever heard of them? Freddie, Charlie, Henrietta. Biggest buncha acidheads in children’s television. I think they just came in from that “Dead Fish” concert.
ROOKIE: Dontcha mean “Phish”…?
GUARD: Shut up, kid. (his walkie-talkie babbles unintelligibly. He whips it out, talks back.) Uh-huh. Uh-huh. Uh-huh. (to the ROOKIE) 7th floor ice machine. (pulls out gun – cocks it) Let’s roll.

They run off to tune of 70s cop show music.

INT, darkened hotel room with towels shoved under the doors. “Phish,” as a matter of fact, is playing on CD player. The NEW ZOO REVUE – a giant owl, frog and hippo, Charlie, Freddie and Henrietta, respectively, are rolling joints for the cast of “You Can’t Do That On Television” who are all now in their twenties. ALANIS MORISSETTE, of course, is not present.

CHARLIE: (wisely holding up joint and intoning ceremoniously) To Hugh Brannom wherever you are.
EVERYBODY ELSE: (antiphonally) To Hugh Brannom wherever you are.

He takes a toke and passes it on.

(CHARLIE’s “refer”-ing to the guy who played Mister Greenjeans on the old “Captain Kangaroo” show – a gentle, wise farmer character in green jeans who brought out cute furry animals and talked about ‘em until he was ultimately busted for marijuana possession in the early 70s. “Mister Greenjeans” would, of course, be funnier – but, these being folks in the subculture of the kid-biz, they would all refer to him by his real name.)

Go to ---
INT, Main Exhibition Center. Mostly empty chairs, but kiddy show types are slowly filing in and filling them. They’re getting ready for one of those incestuously self-referential, self-congratulatory awards ceremonies followed by
a typical blooper reel. It’s all pretty dull…

But, suddenly, there’s a disturbance.

It seems that RONALD McDONALD has attempted to crash the party.

BUFFALO BOB: (host of the “Howdy Doody” show) What the Sam Hill are you doing here?
RONALD: Wh…do you know who I am?
BUFFALO BOB: You’re Ronald McDonald and this is a kid’s TV convention. Howzabout we get back to my original question – what the Sam Hill are you doing here. Hoss?
RONALD: But I am in children’s television.
BUFFALO: No, no, no, no – “children’s television” means making ‘em laugh and doing ‘em some good ever’ now and then. You’re just a hired clown. You do commercials that targets kids, ain’t that the expression? Targets ‘em … draws a bead on ‘em. Way I see it, you’re doing commercials that’s got kids in their sites – you’re doing it to ‘em, you sure as heck ain’t doing it for ‘em. You’re a sidewinder; we care.
RONALD: I care.
BUFFALO BOB: Don’t lie, son.
RONALD: I think I do a lot of good for…
BUFFALO BOB: (snorting) A lot of good?
RONALD: For kids.
BUFFALO BOB: That’s what you think you’re doing?
BUFFALO BOB: Well, it don’t look like a whole lotta good where I’m standing. We’re teaching them the alphabet and how not to start forest fires. You’re brainwashing ‘em to bug their parents so they can eat a buncha grub that’s not good for ‘em. If they elected me Sheriff I’d string you up right now.

HOWDY DOODY wanders up holding a beer. When he’s not in character, HOWDY sounds a lot like Joe Pesci.

HOWDY: You tell ‘em, boss!
BUFFALO BOB: Now why don’t you just mosey on back to the circus or the drive-up window or wherever the heck it is you came from and leave these good people alone?
RONALD: Listen, I’m not gonna….
HOWDY: Hey, didn’t they throw you out of some clown convention last year?
RONALD: You shut up!
BUFFALO BOB: Heck, you ain’t got no call to talk to my little pard’ like that. (suddenly strong-arming RONALD’s hand behind his back in controlling grip) Anyway we could get some security over here? I’d surely appreciate it.
RONALD: Get your hands off me!
HOWDY: Jesus, what a pussy.

A steroid-ridden GUARD walks up, takes RONALD off BUFFALO BOB’s hands, and begins force-marching him to the exit. BUFFALO BOB thanks him kindly. RONALD begins screaming hysterically as he’s dragged away …

RONALD: You can’t do this to me! It’s not fair!
HOWDY: Ah, go find Mayor McCheese and stick your head in his bun! Asta la vista, ya freakin’ sell-out.
RONALD: You’re all sell-outs, all of you – even Captain Kangaroo!

There’s a collective gasp of shock. HOWDY’s the only one who can still talk.

HOWDY: You shut your fucking mouth about Captain Kangaroo! Nobody disses the Captain, motherfucker! Nobody!

BUFFALO BOB looks down at his puppet partner disapprovingly for the bad language – but this isn’t too important right now. RONALD has just insulted their living icon. Like running into a Baptist convention and shouting Jesus was a pothead, like running into the VFW and calling Patton a fag …

It’s just not done.

Everybody’s suddenly shocked and speechless at RONALD’s blasphemy. The GUARD too stops. They’re all standing around like human statues in a game of musical chairs when the music stops …

To make matters worse, BOB KEESHAN, a.k.a. CAPTAIN KANGAROO, is actually there, some lifetime achievement honor planned for him later that night.
He heard all this. Insulted, when he was supposed to be honored …

BUFFALO BOB finally speaks…

BUFFALO BOB: Son, you ain’t even the same species as Captain Kangaroo.
RONALD: Yeah? He did commercials, huh, didn’t he? Those Schwinn bike commercials?
BUFFALO BOB: That’s different.
RONALD: (quoting) “Schwinn Bikes. They’re the best bikes in the world. They really are.” They paid him to say that, didn’t they? They paid him!
RONALD: (hysterical) We’re all the same, don’t you get it? We’re whores! We’re pimps! It’s all about the money! It’s all about getting inside their little fucking heads! (going into full, psychotic temper-tantrum mode) WE’RE FUCKNG THE CHILDREN, OK? I’m just honest about it, and you can’t face that BECAUSE I’M YOU! You aren’t any better than me, you aren’t any better than me BECAUSE I’M YOU!

The con-goers were speechless before – now they’re in shock.

Then BOB KEESHAN walks out of the crowd.

RONALD is still jibbering with hysteria.

But BOB KEESHAN, in full CAPTAIN KANGAROO regalia, is slowly walking up to him with great dignity.

RONALD finally notices. Shuts up.

CAPTAIN KANGAROO walks up to RONALD McDONALD, walks right up to him until he’s face-to-face, eyeball-to-eyeball. For a moment he just stands there and stares at him. The crowd is waiting to see what he’ll do …

HOWDY: Captain’s gonna hit him. You watch.
BUFFALO BOB: Aw, he’s not gonna hit him.
HOWDY: Yeah he is.
BUFFALO BOB: Aw, the Captain’s not that kinda guy.

KEESHAN: (softly) I meant it.

RONALD glares fear and hate at him like some demonically-possessed clown being seltzered with holy water.

KEESHAN: (softly) “Schwinn Bikes are the best bikes in the world.” They really are the best bikes in the world. I meant it.

KEESHAN walks off.

RONALD is destroyed.

The crowd comes back to life from its collective paralysis.

The GUARD throws RONALD outside.

Go to EXT, just in front of the hotel –

RONALD, sprawled on sidewalk, looks up, blinking. He’s surrounded, ominously, by BUNNY RABBIT, MR. MOOSE and an ent-like, GRANDFATHER CLOCK. They do not seem so gentle as the CAPTAIN.

GO to – INT, convention room. Everything’s calmed down now. HOWDY is standing there nursing his beer. A SECURITY GUARD walks over and looks down at him suspiciously.

HOWDY: What? I’m 55 years old, OK? Buzz off.

From outside we hear clown screams.

HOWDY smiles and finishes his beer.

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